Thursday, October 25, 2012

How we cope as a single income family Pt 2 - Budget and dollar stretching

In part two of the How we cope as a single income family series, I'd like to share the way we budget and the things we do, and don't do to stretch that dollar further.

This is how I do our budget in order:

1.Fixed payments
Any and all fixed payments, such as mortgage, rent, loans etc, is allocated first as this is most important.

2. Bill money
We add all our bills up for the year and divide by 52 (or 26 if you get paid fortnightly, 12 if you get paid monthly etc). We put that figure away each pay into a separate bills acct. This includes everything from phone bills - car registration.

3.Leftover money
Any and all leftover money is allocated between groceries, petrol, play/sanity money etc. We learn to be creative and live off what we have left over.

We find doing the budget this way means we never struggle to find bill money as it's always there, the mortgage is always paid as it's first on the list, and we don't spend ridiculous amounts on groceries and take away because the money just isn't there.

We find free or cheap entertainment for the family. It's amazing just how excited the kids get when we take them to the park and bring along a footy to kick around.

We're fortunate enough to live in a street with lots of kids around my kids ages, so they spend most of their afternoon playing with friends.

Things we do and don't do to save money
Live within your means
Allocate every single dollar - Rent/mortgage/board, bills, loans, credit cards, groceries, savings, play/pocket/sanity money or allowance.

Shop at Aldi
Cook from scratch - a great way to include the kids.
Get out of the habit of shopping because it's 'shopping day'. Look through your pantry, fridge and freezer and use what you've got on hand. Get creative.
Substitute ingredients.
Cook meals your family enjoy and will eat.
Water, cordial and milk are the main drinks - we don't give the kids juice cause Mr 2.5 gets a very upset tummy from drinking it, and to avoid any tantrums we don't let any of the kids have it.
Look around for good deals - We do most of our shop at Aldi, but our local green grocer is better priced with everything we buy except for grapes which are cheaper elsewhere.
I don't buy meat over $10/kg
I get the bulk buy rump steak and use for all stews, stirfries, pies etc, so no expensive diced beef
I use basic ingredients for seasoning's - good old salt and pepper, season all, garlic and paprika. I have more in there which I bought a while back but hardly use. I find I use it just to get rid of it, so that was a total waste of money.

Shopping - Clothing, Christmas/Birthdays, household
I buy on sale/clearance
We buy second hand
We happily accept second hand clothing off friends and family (we received a bag of stuff today, including a gorgeous faux leather jacket and some Ben 10 and Toy story clothes still in excellent condition)
We buy good quality furniture and appliances - We've bought cheap and found they didn't last long. We wasted money replacing with more cheap items. We're better off buying something built to last even if it means paying more (not always the case though).
I put a limit on birthday/christmas pressies
I buy things on clearance throughout the year and keep a gift box to store until needed. This way we've always got gifts on hand, so no last minute dash to the shops.
I take advantage of the layby service
I take advantage of the July toy sales
We don't buy pressies for everyone
We hold regular garage sales.

I use both cloth and disposable nappies.
Aldi nappies are great, even for night use.
Even before I switched to Aldi full time, I'd use cheaper brand nappies for day time, unless huggies was on a really good special, in that case I'd stock up.
I breastfed for 8.5 months with our 4th (not always possible, I couldn't do it for long with the other 3, my first lasted 5 days).
I reuse what we've got.
We didn't get the lastest and greatest. I did however waste a bucket load on the baby manchester coz it was just sooo cute :)

I walk as much as possible.
Hubby has a little run around for work which costs about $15 a week on fuel, where as his old car cost $50+ a week on fuel.
I only fill the family car up once a month - I have to make it last
I combine errands

I do the hair cuts
We don't smoke, and drink only occassionally
We have play money each which is used for whatever we want. If we want something big which is a personal want we have to save for it out of our own money

Energy Consumption
We run the dishwasher after 10pm - cheaper rates
I charge my phone when I use the laptop - saves power.
We have solar water and solar power.
We reuse boiled water from eggs/veggies on the garden
The kids are still young enough to bath together
I shower after 10pm
I chuck all washing in together, unless there is enough 'whites' or 'darks' etc to make a load. I know some people will not do this, but it works for us, I've never had a problem with colours running, coz I always hand wash brand new items first.
We barely watch TV, mainly coz we're too busy, but we don't want the kids being addicted to technology and not have an imagination (this was an issue, but since cutting back on screen time they have great imaginations).
We turn off lights, TV's etc when not in use.

I hope this can be useful to someone, as doing these little things has helped us greatly.
If you'd like to know more, feel free to comment or drop me a line on facebook. I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible :)

I am in no way a professional in this area, just a SAHM trying to stretch her hubby's hard earned cash as far as it will go :)

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